A former law enforcement officer had a sobering statistic Wednesday while training employers on what they need to know about the opioid crisis.
One in four Americans is directly affected by opioid misuse, including people who have become addicted or know someone who is addicted or has overdosed, according to a National Safety Council poll.
“There’s a pretty good chance that we might encounter this in our workplace,” said Skyler Dutton, a former police officer who works as a consultant for the North Dakota Safety Council.
The opioid discussion was part of the 45th annual Safety & Health Conference in Bismarck organized by the North Dakota Safety Council.
Dutton, who became certified as a drug recognition expert while he was a police officer, spoke Wednesday to about 90 people about different types of opioids and how they affect the brain.
Participants also worked with computerized mannequins provided by SIM-ND, or Simulation In Motion-North Dakota, to learn about the signs of an overdose and how to respond in an emergency.
The North Dakota Safety Council is a chapter of the National Safety Council, which has made fighting prescription drug abuse a platform issue.
The North Dakota chapter has developed a training course on the opioid crisis in the past few months and is starting to receive more requests for training from employers, said Chuck Clairmont, executive director for the North Dakota Safety Council.
“Our mission is to prevent injuries and deaths,” Clairmont said.
Sue Raguse, a training coordinator and safety liaison for Bobcat in Wahpeton, said she participated in the training to get more informed about the opioid crisis and bring the knowledge back to her workplace.
A few employers who participated said they have the opioid overdose antidote Narcan in the workplace with their first aid kits.
Dutton advised employers to review their policies on substance abuse and encouraged them to refer people to employee assistance programs if they suspect someone is having a problem.
Dutton emphasized how the ease of access to opioids has contributed to the crisis and encouraged people to secure prescription medications or dispose of them through a drug take back program.
The National Safety Council has more information at www.stopeverydaykillers.org, including information on drug take back programs.
About 1,000 people representing multiple industries are participating in the four-day safety conference at the Bismarck Event Center. The event concludes on Friday.